My dictionary defines loft as a room or place used for storing things. (Oxford’s learner’s advanced. 2009 edition) Loft places have become a fashionable lifestyle choice in London. As a result the design of lofty interiors, their accessories and associated urban lifestyle have become iconic images of cool London or cool urban living. In this essay I will explore loft living as a lifestyle, its history, and reasons for its growing popularity plus tips on how to exploit the unique qualities it offers.
Once thought of as strictly for artists and bohemian types, loft living is now a sought after lifestyle accessory. Previously, starving artists had to sleep in their studio lofts to avoid paying rent, but now loft living is one of the most sought after type of housing for most people. Loft living has its origin in Manhattan area of New York, but today a look at any downtown area across many cities reveals a trend that is gaining popularity. In London, loft living gained widespread use in the nineties. “In London, the loft boom is owed much to someone who was the furthest thing from cool- Margret Thatcher.
In her government’s misguided attempt to boost the pockets of property owners, camouflaged as an attempt for urban regeneration, the use of Class Order of 198 was passed. Basically, this attempt to simplify planning meant that office and industrial property were classified as one, giving landlords the opportunity to change rents on inner city workshops and light industrial units. ”(Richard, 2010) Most businesses especially in Clerkenwell area was affected as tenants were forced to move rather than pay the exorbitant rents.
But with the onset of recession, most industrial buildings became vacant and in an attempt to regeneration, the Islington council changed use of the buildings to residential use. 1. The oxford learners dictionary, 2009 2. Richard Artus, 2010. The history of loft living. www. urbanspaces. com 2 It is now common to find loft apartments, usually in renovated factories or other commercial structures: the appeal for living in open spaces is growing day by day. “Loft living is no longer just meant for starving artists who could not afford to live elsewhere, today loft lifestyle is a much desired trendy way to live.
Particularly hip among upwardly mobile young adults, typical lofts are generally located in urban centers which offer easy access to shopping, dining, and all things that are happening now. And along with being in the middle of the action, loft living offers a very specific lifestyle. Today while many lofts are housed in turn-of-the-the-century industrial buildings in metro cities like London, New York Chicago and Los Angeles, quite a few are actually built from scratch.
It seems like the desire to this unique and contemporary way of living has caught on in areas where the number of available buildings has been depleted” (Deborah, Jun 29 2010) There are other factors that are contributing to the growth of the trend. Many lofts are situated in downtown areas, which mean greater access to many social amenities, shorter commutes and the joy of living in rejuvenated neighborhoods. Additionally, lofts can be customized according to the owner’s tastes: the space can be partitioned to incorporate several rooms as per the owner’s requirements.
Many of today’s newer loft developments are being built without proper adherence to the original industrial feel-usually to save costs , but most offer other amenities for comfort and convenience. A typical loft utilizes large open space and so presents unique challenges. However, one should utilize the unique qualities offered by loft living. 3. Deborah s. Hildebrand Jun 29 2010. Choosing Loft Living as a Lifestyle. www. sute101. com 3 When buying or renting a loft, there are a number of things that one should bear in mind. Location is one of them.
It should, ideally, be near a major thoroughfare, in a quiet place and yet accessible to social amenities such as hospital and schools. A potential buyer should also review, as in newer lofts, the integrity of the developer, builder or agent. The other thing is whether the package has any hidden costs. Loft living has its challenges though, and most of the challenges arise in design. Designing the interior decor for instance may present a challenge to many people. This is due to the fact that most lofts were not intended to be residential in the first place.
Rebecca Tanqueray and Oviana Fielding in their book Loft: Living in space, says, “coming up with a lofty notion is one thing, coming home to a lofty apartment is another. Big plans converting big spaces need practical and artful solutions to manage all that scale, all that space and all those industrial-strength problems. Adaptive re-use in residential design may call for revising user assumptions and adaptations to such unusual spaces. ”(Victoria Carlson, 1999) Most of the loft design in the area feature exposed brick walls, and support columns and vintage wooden flooring.
Given that they were designed to be warehouses, they have high ceiling. And it is not uncommon to see duct work, beams rafters and pipes for an industrial edge. The lofts I visited use a certain measure of open plan living in which most of the living spaces flow into each other. This is different from what I am used to at home where rooms are separate and in some instances, a distance from each other. 4. Victoria Carlson, 1999. Review of the book, Loft: Living in space by Rebecca tanqueray and Oviana Fielding 4 Living in a loft should provide the same feeling as living in a condominium or a normal house.
But there are several things that one should incorporate into the design, decor and the floor plan to create a homely mood. To begin, one needs to create a positive impression at the entry. Apart from introducing the house mood the entry area serves as catch-all for mail, bags, umbrellas, shoes and rain jackets. This problem may be alleviated by constructing a storage area. Once you have created space, it is easier to decorate the rest of the loft. A small rug placed at the entry will protect the rest of the house from dusty, wet or muddy shoes.
In addition to that, family members or guests may want to check their appearance as the move in or out of the loft. So, the next piece of furniture that may be considered in the entry area is a mirror, hang over a table or narrow shelf. Alternatively, one may want to place to stop and wear shoes, so a small bench or love seat, depending on the available space, can also work in the new loft entry. After choosing the furniture and the flooring for the entry, one can think about whether to light this area separately. A small central pendant light fixture or a spotlight will create drama and a warm feel as will a table lamp.
Finally, personalize the entry by including accessories like a wall painting, dried and fresh flowers, and holiday souvenirs. Decorating the loft interior may pose challenges as one needs to create an overall impression of cohesion while maintaining a suitable separate atmosphere for each area. If you have to paint the walls, choose colors that complement the general outlook of the interior. 5 Due to thee open nature of most lofts, one should put a touch of personality, and relate the same to its surrounding. For instance, prints of food works best in living, dining area and the kitchen.
Some children find wall masks very scary and their preferences should also be taken into account. Avoid disturbingly provocative art in bedrooms or studies. Artwork should be framed to coordinate with the loft decor. Always select a frame that complements your decor style and the colors you have used in the loft. Where possible, use similar frames and mats for objects that will be displayed together. The loft interior plan too should incorporate a functional and comfortable floor plan with places for entertainment, working and storage. These individual living areas can then be defined with room dividers, rugs and furniture.
Room division can be in form of sliding or folding screens and frosted glass panels. Another way of to establish subtle transition is the use of raised platforms. Furniture arrangement can be problematic if traffic flows between the open spaces is not carefully planned. Different activities can overlap. For instance, it ca be difficult to conduct a conversation in the living area wile the children play noisily in the dining room. Part of the charm of loft living is that it allows a family to connect to each other and their guests informally.
For example, a meal can be prepared while guests wait by the dining table taking their pre-dinner drinks. When decorating, one should think of the loft as a one entity instead of creating a different personality and themes for every room or living area. This creates cohesion and simplifies your decor choices. One should use similar or complementary decorative finishes throughout, linking 6 any two sections that open up into each other with similar paint, wall paper or using the same curtains. Also keep the flooring similar to visually expand the space.
Proper loft planning should also be extended to furniture arrangement. The first step in creating an ideal furniture arrangement is choosing a focal point which might be an architectural detail such as a fire place. Since most lofts do not come with a fireplace built in, you can have one built. In an area with no discernable focal point, you can create one. This can be the wall facing you when you once you enter the room or the entertainment unit in a family room or area. The next step is to arrange your furniture around the focal point.
In the living area, for instance, the sofa should ideally face the focal point or be arranged around it to underscore its importance. After placing the biggest furniture item, lace the items that relate to it next. This could be coffee tables or side tables. Place all other items in a manner that enhances the living experience. For example, the TV might look great in a corner but can it be viewed from the main sofa? Is there somewhere to place a cup of tea as one watch TV? As one place the furniture, one has to bear in mind how occupants will use the room.
Is there enough space between the furniture items to allow for someone to sit down comfortably and stretch their legs without touching another person or a piece of furniture? More often than not the issue of space is very important, as most lofts have large spaces. The most common mistake people make when furnishing a loft is having too much furniture in 7 screens, they separate two areas but ensure that the two sections of the room are not claustrophobic. How one arranges the furniture and electronic equipment and how much of it you include can make or break the vision of the beautiful living space one might be trying to achieve.
The best furniture placement maximizes on your current space instead of limiting it, it allows for smooth traffic flows in and out of the individual spaces and enhances the living experiences.. By making complementary furniture choices, your furniture sits well in both rooms, For instance, one should use chairs that can double up as extra seating in the living room area. One should avoid using too much furniture and opt instead for multifunctional furniture. For example a rectangular or oval table can be elongated or folded into a small unit for a dining table.
When not in use as a dining table, it can act as a console. Since most loft spaces are huge open spaces, making individual spaces becomes inevitable. One option for physically creating some privacy while still maintaining spaciousness is the use of folding screens. When placed between a dining area and living room, or living room and bedroom, it can hide the mess of one area. Decorative room screens divide the room without cutting out the light, and come in a variety of materials including wood and wrought iron.
If hand carved or well crafted, they can be a visual statement in the area. See through shelving units are good room dividers as they also provide additional storage and attractive display opportunities. 8 Another form of shelving is a low wall of kitchen base units that divide the room only up to waist level. Some shelving can either be permanent or free-standing. The least way of dividing a living area is by arranging the furniture so that it forms a natural barrier. However it is important to ensure that the back of whichever furniture piece is used is presentable.
Another factor that one should consider is weather. Most lofts were built for other purposes other than residential, so it is very important to consider the issue of weather in the interior design. For instance the general needs during the cold, dark months are warmth, comfort, security and indoor stimulation. The loft may become inhabitable through the cold or the hot season. So the interior should incorporate designs that would cater for cold as well as the hot seasons. Due to the big nature of most lofts spaces, conditioning the rooms may prove to be a challenge.
So, when shopping for things like furniture, it important to bear in mind that some pieces retain heat while others lose it easily. Generally, the less solid a piece is and the less fabric it has, for example wicker, rattan and bamboo, the faster it will lose heat. However, chunkier heavily upholstered chairs help in retaining heat. Also recliners keep you warmer by keeping your feet off the floor. Regardless of how cold it is, one can still make the full use of the natural light, afforded by the loft’s big windows, and heat as well as use some artificial heat sources from fireplaces or heaters.
In the cold months if you have sheer curtains it is advisable to replace them with heavy window draperies to keep out cold draft of air and retain heat indoors ,artificial light fixtures too, will help in creating feelings of warmth and comfort. Glass, stainless steel and plastic, look and feel very cold because they are smooth, textured surfaces on the other hand trap pockets of air and add warmth. So, where possible, bring in textured materials and items. 9 For throws and cushion covers, choose from fleece, wool or cashmere and drape one across the arm of a chair or over the back of a sofa, or at the foot of a bed.
Marble or tile flooring will definitely be colder in such weather. A wooden floor is much warmer. However, for softness underfoot and insulation from the cold turn to carpet in your living room and bedrooms. To provide further luxurious comfort, ensure that the carpet is lined with under-felt, in addition, provide area rugs for passageways, thick bath mats and bedside rugs. Loft living may or not be viable and significant solutions to the housing solution to the housing problem facing many city planners and designers, but the trend is opening new frontiers and creating many opportunities-we simply cannot afford to ignore it.
The challenge, however is to make this former warehouses, churches and sawmills into habitable and most importantly, comfortable homes. Works cited: 1. The oxford learners dictionary, 2009 2. Richa Deborah s. Hildebrand Jun 29 2010. Choosing Loft Living as a Lifestyle. www. sute101. com 3. Richard Artus, 2010. The history of loft living. www. urbanspaces. com 4. Victoria Carlson, 1999. Review of the book, Loft: Living in space by Rebecca tanqueray and Oviana Fielding